The Early Winifred-area Forts
Fort F.A. Chadron was built opposite the
mouth of the Judith River on the north
bank of the Missouri River in 1843. It was
a log structure built by Francois A.
Chadron and Alexander Harvey, agents
of the American Fur Company.
Chadron and Harvey built this fort after
abandoning Fort McKenzie due to lack of
trade with the Blackfoot Indians, the
reason being an incident which led to the
Blackfoot hatred traveled downriver with
new location, precluding the success of
this post also. Chadron was replaced by
Alexander Culbertson, a kindly trader
married to an Indian woman who was a
great help in trading with the Indians. It
was decided to abandon and burn Fort
Chadron and build Fort Lewis on a new
located better situated for carrying on
trade with the Indians.
west bank of the mouth of the
Judith Infantry Battalion on May
19, 1866. Camp (Fort) Cooke
was the first military post to be
built in Montana, the purpose
Camp Cooke, located on the
being to provide protection to
river traffic and settlers in the
area. The 31st day of March,
1870, saw the end of Camp
Cooke. The old site of Camp
Cooke is presently eroding
away the Judith Channel
continues to meander to the
Camp Cooke in the the year 1869.
Powers built this trading post to serve the soldiers garrisoned at Camp Cooke and
possible get some steamboat trade. Steamboat traffic had reached a peak by 1867
and was showing a decline by 1869. With the closing of Camp Cooke in 1870 it
become quite apparent that Fort Claggett was located in the wrong spot. Fort
Claggett, mostly named after William H. Claggett, who owned land in the area and at
the time was a delegate to the U.S. Congress, was soon destined to be moved.
The new Fort Claggett was moved by Powers in 1872 to a point about one-quarter of
a mile below the mouth of the Judith River. On June 14th, 1872, the Claggett Post
Office was established with Abel Quintance as postmaster. This post office
In about 1878, a large stone warehouse and trading post was built by T.C. Power and
named Judith Landing. The remains of this old building are still standing and it was
used as a barn at the PN Ranch for many years. A part of the warehouse was
washed away by the Judith River as it changed channels.
Fort Claggett served as an Indian trading post, trading post to Camp Cooke,
steamboat stop, stockman and rancher post and probably served as a garrison to
military troops after the abandonment of Camp Cooke.
Courtesy of Jim Arthur